Couple short ones today…
I’ve always been kind of torn on Joe Biden. I’ve always liked his qualifications on foreign policy, and he’s clearly bright. On the other hand, there’s a rather distinct mouth-brain filter issue that makes me reluctant to make him the nation’s ambassador to the world. Still, when he wants to, the man can turn a phrase. From Tuesday night’s Democratic debate:
Meanwhile, over on the Hill, the Judiciary Committee is looking less and less likely to endorse the nomination of Michael Mukasey to be the next Attorney General. This is really remarkable, given that Mukasey seemed destined for a swift confirmation, what with his stellar qualifications of not being Alberto Gonzalez. However, as people began reading more of his judicial opinions, it became clear that whatever competence he might bring to the office, it also comes with a hefty dose of executive-authority worship. Beyond that, there’s the entire argument over torture. For those who haven’t been watching the fight, a brief overview:
In a round of hearings, the Judiciary Committee asked Mukasey about a method of interrogation known as “waterboarding,” in which a prisoner is strapped tightly to a board, a cloth placed over his face, and water poured over his head, so that in attempting to inhale, the prisoner inhales only wet cloth, making him feel as though he’s drowning. (In one iteration, anyway. As with most forms of torture, there are all manner of delightful varieties.) He dodged the question, claiming that he didn’t know what waterboarding was; that he wouldn’t even speculate on what it might be, since that would give al-Qaeda an idea of what they might face in US custody; and that he wouldn’t say whether he thought such a thing was illegal, as that might put US officials in danger of arrest.
The proper response to claims 1 and 2 is to simply call bullshit, anyone who’s read a newspaper in the last five years knows what waterboarding is, and that it’s been used on terrorism suspects in American custody. As for the third, if American officials have done something illegal, then they damn well ought to face trial for it. And if they did it because their bosses at Justice, the VP’s office, or the White House told them it was OK, then those bosses damn well deserve to be prosecuted. Do we really have to sit down a federal judge and explain to him the basic principle of American government that nobody is above the law? More on this one as the votes come in.
Finally, for those of you who like to finish your reading with a bit of schadenfreude, here’s a fun story out of Washington state. I must say, as many times in the last few years as I’ve heard the “closeted antigay Republican exposed in run-in with the law” story, somehow it just never gets old. Although this one can’t hold a candle to the best one of the year: the lamentable tale of Bob Allen, arrested for offering an undercover police officer $20 for the opportunity to perform oral sex on him. When asked about the occurrence, Allen claimed that, said officer being black, he was afraid for his life and willing to do anything to survive. That one may never be topped.